“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” — Anaïs Nin
It’s courage and taking action that separates the best from the rest.
Self-doubt can be one of your biggest limitations in this lifetime. It’s your self-image that can limit or enable you, in all aspects of your life.
If you remember Dr. Marty Seligman’s work on Learned Helplessness, he found that people limit themselves by making things permanent, personal, and pervasive:
”Why can’t I ever catch a break? Why does this always happen to me? Why does everything go wrong?”
The solution is to replace feelings of learned helplessness with a sense of learned optimism and explain things in a way that dispute negative thought patterns.
If you remember Brene Brown’s work on vulnerability, she found that the difference between the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging and the people who really struggled for it, came down to one thing:
“People who have a strong sense of love and belonging believe they’re worthy of love and belonging. That’s it. They believe they’re worthy.”
In a nutshell, the backbone of your success depends on your self-image and your willingness to bet on yourself.
In the book, The New Psycho-Cybernetics, Maxwell Maltz, M.D., shares his take on why you should bet on yourself.
Here are key takeaways:
- Bet on yourself. If there is one person you need to count on in this life, it’s you. If all of you, can count on you, that’s a powerful force of nature on your side.
- Make decision and take action. Your success depends on your ability to make decisions and take action. You can learn and correct course as you go; it doesn’t need to start out perfect.
- Don’t stand still. Don’t fall into the trap of self-doubt. Making decisions and taking action is how you move forward vs. staying stuck in analysis paralysis.
It’s Not Your Abilities, It’s Your Ability to Act
Your success depends on betting on ideas and taking action.
Taking action is how you will grow your abilities.
Dr. Maltz writes:
“Nothing in the world is ever absolutely certain or guaranteed.
Often the difference between a successful person and a failure is not one’s better abilities or ideas, but the courage that one has to bet on ideas, to take a calculated risk, and to act.
We often think of courage in terms of heroic deeds on the battle field, in a shipwreck, or during a crisis.
But everyday living requires courage too.”
Standing Still Can Make You Feel Nervous, Stymied, or Trapped
Standing still can actually make you feel sick. Tony Robbins long ago said you need to either change your perspective or change your procedure. His point was that you have to either look at the situation differently, and embrace or accept it, or you have to take action.
Your power comes from taking action. In fact, Tony Robbins defines personal power simply as your ability to act.
Dr. Maltz points out that if you stand still and don’t’ take action, you will effectively stew in your own juices:
“Standing still–failure to act–causes people who are faced with a problem to become nervous, to feel stymied or trapped, and it can bring on a host of physical symptoms.”
A Step in the Wrong Direction is Better than Standing Still
If you take action, you learn. Otherwise, you can get stuck n your head and fall into analysis paralysis.
It’s better to start taking action and build some momentum.
Bet on yourself and take actions towards your vision, ambitions, and goals.
Dr. Maltz writes:
“Study the situation thoroughly, go over in your imagination the various courses of action possible to you and the consequences that can and may follow from each course.
Pick out the course that gives the most promise–and go ahead. If we wait until we are absolutely certain and sure before we act, we will never do anything.
Any time you act, you can be wrong. Any decision you make can turn out to be the wrong one.
But we must not let this deter us from going after the goal we want. You must daily have the courage to risk making mistakes, risk failures, risk being humiliated.
A step in the wrong direction is better than staying ‘on the spot’ all your life. Once you’re moving forward, you can correct your course as you go.
Your automatic guidance system cannot guide you when you’re stalled, standing still.”
Leaders Make Decisions and Take Action
Any great leader, must first lead themselves. To build your leadership muscle, practice being decisive and taking action on your decisions.
This is how you live and how you learn.
You’ll learn faster through your mistakes and course corrections than through well-thought out fantasies without feedback.
Dr. Maltz writes:
”Lee Iacocca has said that decisiveness is the number-one characteristic he look for in key people to surround himself with and depend on. General Norman Schwarzkopf has said that leadership requires making decisions.
Most leaders agree that success comes from decisiveness and course correction, not long delays and procrastination to attempt making only flawless choices.
Few successes are achieved via a straight line from point A to point B, from idea to fruition. Most successes are achieved in a zig-zag manner.”
Be willing to make a few mistakes, to suffer a little pain to get what you want.
Don’t Live Out Your Life in Self-Doubt
Self-doubt is a horrible place to be. If nothing else, you can build confidence in your ability to ask better questions, and take better actions.
How do you do that? Do you do that by sitting there, doubting yourself?
No, you do that by asking better questions and taking better actions in real life and learning from your mistakes.
Dr. Maltz writes:
“Don’t sell yourself short. ‘Most people,’ said General R.E. Chambers, once Chief of the Army’s Psychiatry and Neurology Consultant Division, ‘don’t know how brave they really are.
In fact, many potential heroes, both men and women, live out their lives in self-doubt. If they only knew they had these deep resources, it would help give them the self-reliance to meet most people even a big crisis.’
You’ve got the resources.
But you never know you’ve got them until you act–and give them a chance to work for you.”
Practice Acting Boldly in Your Daily Little Things
Bold doesn’t have to be big. You can start with the little things you do each day, from the decisions that you make, to the actions that you take.
Dr. Maltz writes:
”Another helpful suggestion is to practice acting boldly and with courage in regard to ‘little things.’ Do not wait until you can be a big hero in some dire crisis.
Daily living also requires courage.
By practicing courage in little things, we develop the power and talent to act courageously in more important matters.”
As Terence, the Ancient Roman playwright, and Virgil, the great Ancient Roman Poet, have said, “Fortune favors the bold.”
The key to becoming a better you is getting your bold on.
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